EFG Hit Hard By Marble Bar, Fund Of Funds Write-Offs

Jul 28 2010 | 12:12pm ET

Swiss private bank EFG International suffered a big loss in the first half—almost all of it traceable to a pair of disastrous investments in hedge fund firms.

The Zurich-based firm wrote-down the values of three asset managers it bought between 2005 and 2008. Most of the 859.5 million Swiss franc write-off is attributable to its stake in hedge fund Marble Bar Asset Management. EFG bought a majority share of the London-based firm in 2007, only to see its assets under management plummet from US$6 billion to less than US$1 billion.

EFG sold its interest in Marble Bar to its management team last month for US$517 million, leading to a 500 million franc write off.

The private bank also wrote off 210 million for fund of hedge funds firm C.M. Advisors, and another 168 million francs for Swedish structured products firm Derivatives Structured Asset Management. All told, the write-offs actually exceed EFG’s first-half loss of 809.8 million francs.

“Client appetite for the products in these three product areas shriveled,” CEO Lawrence Howell said. “We don’t think the world is going to end in hellfire, brimstone and damnation, but it’s very difficult to forecast strong growth in those businesses.”


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